The man turned 78 three days ago, which I thought would be against him. This is why I am not a Cardinal myself. For that matter, I am not a bookie either; the folks at Paddy Power had the short odds on Benedict for a reason, I suppose.
My brief notes after a half-hour of coverage on ABC (all quotes are approximated):
- From the initial statement by the new Holy Father: "The Cardinals have selected me, a humble worker in the field of the Lord. I am consoled that the Lord knows how to work through insufficient instruments." Nice touch of modesty.
- They had Cokie Roberts. (Sigh.) She looked as if a skunk had gotten into the studio. It wasn't quite as bad as the friend who asked me if this meant that the arch-conservatives were still in control of the Church. As a young prelate, Ratzinger was an instrumental voice at the Second Vatican Council, and people were all over him for being some sort of Protestant double-agent, a traitor to the true faith. Now he's supposedly Pat Robertson with a collar.
- Fr. McBrien impressed me. He praised the new Pope as a humble and self-effacing man, and liked the choice of name: "It signals that he will try to bring an end to the divisiveness within the Church... If he can bring rapproachment and healing with no dilution of doctrine or tradition, it will be a remarkable achievement." I expected worse.
- The commentator was less sanguine, citing an older document on the primacy of the Catholic Church, written by Ratzinger, that he quoted as saying that other denominations are deficient. He may well have written it. I hope rather that a Cardinal really does think that; if he's Catholic for a reason, I want to know what that reason is, and see if I agree or not. I want my Catholic prelates to teach Catholicism, much as the Barking Spider wants his pastor to be properly evangelical.
- Likewise, worrying about how he's going to be seen by other religions is preposterous, a red herring. He's supposed to be safeguarding our faith, not auditioning for other ones.
- World Youth Day happens to be in Cologne, Germany, this year. Benedict XVI is German. Can you say "command appearance"? That place will go bonkers when he shows up.